There is no such thing as a happy medium, or so the saying goes.
One presumes that doesn't mean that all people who claim to be able to communicate with the dead are manic depressives, as that would be really sad news. More likely, the aphorism is referring to occasions where individuals or brands strive to reach many segments of an audience or market and fail abysmally in appealing to either.
Take premium burgers on the menu at McDonald's, for example. People don't go to McDonald's for pricey and time-consuming gourmet sophistication; they go there for convenience, low prices and the toys. Or some of us do.
There are, however, occasions when hitting that golden mean, that happy medium, is possible, and there are certainly some watch brands that have managed to be all things to all men.
Diesel watches, or timeframes as the company insists on calling them, have been around for years. They have carved out a lucrative niche, appealing to fashion-conscious men who want watches that are unique and with an element of prestige but who cannot afford the haute horologie that emanates from Switzerland.
The summer 2011 Diesel Aquanaut range of 'timeframes' is another solid and interesting roster of high-concept watches. The pick of them is the DZ1432 (below). Inspired by professional divers' watches, the DZ1432 comes in a chunky and robust stainless-steel casing that has strong echoes of Bell & Ross and is water resistant to a respectable 50 metres. Further nods to diving watches include the oversized 12 numeral and the prominent crown. The white and blue nautical colour scheme works well with the white textured silicone strap. The DZ1432 retails for HK$850 and is available at all Diesel stores and selected retailers.
Skagen Denmark has been steadily building a following in Hong Kong over the past few years, helped by the opening of a regional office and a recent run of innovative and impressively designed, yet affordable, watches. Skagen Denmark is, confusingly, an American company, yet one that looks to instil a Scandinavian design philosophy into its timepieces. This can be seen in the rather fetching 809XLTBLN (above), the functional name belying the watch's sleek yet masculine design. The most striking things about this watch are the large titanium case and titanium mesh bracelet, which the company says is available in a number of colour combinations but works best in black. The blue carbon-fibre face contains three sub dials providing day, date and 24-hour information. The Skagen Denmark 809XLTBLN retails for HK$2,098 and is available online and at selected retailers.
For those mid- to mass-market companies lacking designer glamour, you can't go far wrong hiring uber product designer Philippe Starck. From hotels, furniture, motorbikes and even hard drives, there's nothing Starck can't sprinkle his design star dust on. That includes the watches he has made in collaboration with American mid-market watch company Fossil. The Fossil Starck collection is stark by name and by nature, as epitomised most clearly by the Palindrome Too Orange Dial watch (right). Retailing for a frankly ludicrous HK$1,160, the Palindrome Too Dial is a thoroughly modern timepiece that features two dials: one for hours and one for minutes. The stainless-steel casing neatly merges into the polyurethane strap and there is lovely detailing of the Starck logo on both the dials and strap. This high-concept gem is available in either all black or the infinitely more fetching grey and bright orange.